Thursday, December 13, 2007

A job well done

Isn't it funny that job and Job are spelled the same way? It is indicative, I believe. Our ancestors weren't fools when it came to the Word.

I have just overhauled an entire 40 page publication in three weeks. the graphic design, the editorial design and content, even the ads layout. Everything is different than it was just three weeks ago.

I'm feeling very good about it.

Finally! I got to use this weird bag of skills that I've honed over the past umpteen years. Brand marketing. Editing. Writing. Design sense. I got to manage several graphic designers and rein in the overwritten descriptions of little programs that are simply supposed to be fun. I got to put into perspective a whole organization and actually make it LOOK more substantial and together than it ever has before.

I've been working countless hours, many, many more than I've been paid for, and I think it worked for the publication. Whether it will ever pay off for me, I guess, just doesn't matter all that much. I had a blast making a difference. I got to help someone believe in herself! I got to do something I'm good at. It is enough for now.

Tomorrow is another day. So, I also started looking at want ads again. Is it so wrong to know that I am worthy of being paid a survivable, and even abundant wage? I am worth a lot. I have so many talents in my back pocket that have hardly ever been utilized.

Just a few months ago, I wrote that I thought that I couldn't handle a big job. I've just proven myself wrong. I have so much energy for work when I'm giving my all. I know that absolutely to support my kids and make a stable future for us, I'm willing and even eager to take on much more than I ever have before. I just want to really utilize my skills fiinally. I don't want to be ho-hum if I'm working. I want to be totally thrilled, as I was these past three weeks, for the opportunity to shine. Even if it is hard. I want to be compensated really well for what I do really well, too, and I don't think it is too much to ask for.

The secret of going from job to Job is really to simply do your best even when you have to argue with yourself and your own resentments and attitudes, even when you have to forgive others and their resentments and attitudes, and even when others don't fully trust themselves and you have to trust them regardless. You have to do your best, and that is good enough. How good can you be?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Book of Job

I've been looking at this old Biblical tale and wondering about it. You could say I've been having a "Job-experience" in my life for quite sometime. I'd have to say it's been incremental, and not a before-and-after type of thing. For instance, for seven years at a time I was covered head to toe with hives. I went to countless doctors for a cure, and en masse they shrugged. Could this have been the work of Satan to test my faith? Then there was the years of abuse at the hands of the man I dearly loved. This led me without a doubt to deeper faith rather than away from it, but ultimately what I had faith would happen never did -- that he would finally love me enough not to hit me. What happend, of course, was that I finally changed and said, "enough."

Now my "Job-experience" is that I'm poorer than I've ever been since I was maybe 23 years old. Truly I'm starting over with just the advantage of experience that tells me that I have had abundance and maybe it will come again if I am competant. I no longer worry about being brilliant or special. The blessing of experience is knowing that competance is actually more important in the long-run.

I have two children, but only 1/2 way. 1/2 of the time they are away from me as if they were gone completely. It honestly causes me to cry on a daily basis not to have them in my life as they should be in my life. This is not what I had faith would come about. My challenge is to find the blessing somehow in it. This is my biggest struggle because I so want to protect them from the very life I brought them into!

Also, my boyfriend, a steady, gentle, kind and supportive man who helps me keep the faith in many ways, lives far away and travels for his job about 70% of the month. I see him when he can afford to come see me, but then I need his financial help, so he can't come see me as often. This I have to look at as some sort of opportunity, and when he is near to appreciate his presence one hundred percent.

I have read that this story of Job is about a self-righteous man becoming truly right. That is going from an external belief about God and what it means to be blessed, to an enlightened internal belief in God that understands that circumstances and appearances have nothing to do with the blessing of light and love. In a sense, happiness is a choice, and a moment. I see my life as a connect-a-dot affair. The dots are moments of happiness that I leap to with the choice to find them. They may boil down to a pleasant exchange at the grocery story, or a hug from my son, or the evolution of my daughter into a young lady. As I leap from moment of happiness and realization, I create the shape of my life.

Monday, November 12, 2007

does busy-ness equal stability?

I've been wondering as I've added more hours, more responsiblity to my little job at the BJCC, if business in effect has become our stand-in for stability. Does the act of participating in commerce itself define what it is to be stable in the world?

I believe not, but I also believe we spend most of our lives fooled by this smoke and mirrors trap. Having spent nearly a year homeless, without a home to be more precise, and feeling less stable, less real than I have ever felt before in my life, it has been some relief to have this business to participate in. Relief does not equal stability though. It simply represents a ticket to play the same game that everyone else is playing. Perhaps, if I had much, much more to play with I could really feel stable? But, I've had that, and I felt just as frightened then as I do now. So, it must be something else that frightens me besides lack or abundance of playing pieces for the commerce game.

Provisions do not have to be so complex. A bowl of rice. A cup of tea. A roof. A blanket. What has become of us in our search for stability?

And, all of this thought dovetails so nicely with my discovery of Judaism. That bigotted, self-embarrassed part of me that so longs to keep up. That intellectual part of me that rejects keeping up. The part of me that understands that I am Job. The part of me that finds irony in the similar word: job. I have a job. I work for a Jewish organization. I'm not well paid, but it is a fantastic opportunity to serve a long heritage that has been much neglected. I know I'm there on purpose, for a job. I know that I am Job redeeming myself. It is all so perfect sometimes I can't help just smiling all the time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Remember me...

I have hit that "Remember Me" button every time I log onto my Blog, but it never remembers me. Do you think that means anything symbolic? Am I simply using this as my journal and sending this word smithing into the void? Probably. Sigh.

I'm a little bit sad today. The last two years has been so much about sadness and mourning. It is unbelievable, even to me sometimes, but I really do feel so much grief about the demise of my marriage. I loved the man and still do, and yet I really do know that our problems were too big for me to fix, and he had no interest in changing or evolving with me. It makes me sad. There were good moments interspersed with the really horrific ones, and we have two beautiful children who will forever be split, as I am split between my parents. It's just sad. That's all.

This weekend coming up is a film making weekend in Boulder, where I live, largely because I talked that man into taking a risk and starting this festival that is happening. I'm now completely cut off from it even though I really believe in its tenants if not its Director. A 7 minute film, using in-camera editing only, and utilizing 5 of 11 items from a list received at 9 pm tomorrow night must be made by each entrant in only 24 hours. It's fun and creative and I loved being a part of it. Sigh. It's hard to compare letting go of that experience with my children, but maybe it is like letting go of a pet.

Then I also found out that my Granny died on Monday. She was really my mother's aunt, but she was a grandmother to me most of my childhood, and I really did call her Granny. She was probably one of the most elegant women I've ever known. She was compact and held herself like a movie-star. She smoked incessantly, dyed her hair until the last 15 years of her life, had a closet when I was little like a dry cleaner's rack with a button she could push to bring her clothes around and to her, rather than climbing into its dark recesses as I loved to do.

I remember watching her put cold cream on. She would wrap her head in a towel, always wearing a deliciously soft nightgown or robe, and then apply this thick layer of cold cream on her face, leaving room around her mouth and eyes. She would smoke a cigarette, and get ice water for the bedside table. I remember the sound of the ice clinking as she brought it to me, her face ghostly white and shiny.

This is a woman who was hyper-critical of my behavior and appearance all the time, as I recall and yet, achingly encouraging when I actually did do something right. She told me I was a heck of a cook because I stirred the can of chili I was heating up, instead of letting it scorch. She taught me to swim, and she gave me an example of fearlessness when you lose everything you hold dear due to unforeseen circumstances. She never let poverty undo her sense of pride in simple order and beauty. Going from a large ranch house to a tiny apartment did not undo her sense of responsibility to her elders either. She took in her great Aunt for a third of the year, even when she felt pinched and was not necessarily enjoying the preferences of her life coming to bear.

There are many stories to tell about Granny. This is only a beginning, a first penny in the jar. I don't think she really knew how much I loved her. We were often at odds, and I can hear in my head the way she would say, "Now, Amanda..." followed by some rapier poke in my self-esteem. Yet, in spite of what she said to me, she was often present for me in a way no one else in my life was or could be. She gave me a sense of pride and continuity about my Mom's family, and for that I will always be grateful.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

a cobbled existence

Turns out there are miracles. Well, perhaps they come in as half-measures sometimes. Maybe sometimes, half-miracles are all we can take...

Rather than having one big job in my life to support my kids and my home, it seems that my life will be a cobbled existence. Small jobs cobbled together to create some kind of whole. The biggest stone at the moment is such a small stone I wouldn't have even realized its existence ten years ago. That's just to show how much a life can change.

I believe it has something to do with being a mother for me. I am unable to make a decision to not show up for my kids in favor of lots of work. To be authentic to my true desire to be present for my children, I have to treat my time with them as, I suppose, garden beds that I have to cobble my path around. I am choiceless about this. Occasionally I fool myself about that and get an idea that I can mow over those garden beds, but when I get right to the edge of them, I am simply unable to comply with the desire to have a big job.

I'm very excited because the Universe has granted me a real part-time job. This is the big cobblestone I have. It allows me to drop my kids off at school and pick them up from school. I love the job and am able to do it without straining myself. I meet absolutely no resistance to doing the work. This is actually unusual for me believe it or not. Or maybe work is like that for everyone.

This part-time job will not satisfy me however, and so I must find many other cobblestones to go around it and around my flower beds. I have many half-finished projects that are begging to be completed and to be released into the world. I am half-way through designing my own Tarot deck, for instance. I must write the companion guide. I also have several screenplays at various levels of done. Neither of those will bring in immediate money, but if I can complete them in the next six months then I will be well on my way towards having some kind of reliable life because at least I will be able to say that I completed these things that are important to me. I won't wonder anymore. I'll just know if they're viable or not.

Then I also read Tarot cards now and then. If I put just a little energy into advertising and making people aware of me I know I'd read more often. It is a wondrous practice for me and a gift. Now I have a place I can do readings at, too.

I might try to clean houses on Fridays for some extra cash. It seems like that's what I've been doing a lot of this year -- cleaning houses. So, why not make some cash doing that?

I wonder how many cobblestones I'll find to fit in my path...? Each one is a miracle that lets the flowerbeds grow.

Monday, September 24, 2007

after pruning

The five minutes is up. I can now announce that I have a home...and this is truly good news. I am grateful beyond measure to have a place for my kids when they're sick and for my kitchen stuff, and the art on my walls. Try to imagine that a year has passed since I've had these luxuries which most of you take for granted.

Now that I have a home, I have to actually find a way to pay for it. This should be easy with my work experience, education and talents. However, I have not had a writing job since July. My screenwriting classes have very few people in them, so that I end up making about $8 per hour. What's more I have actually had trouble getting simple jobs like "grocery store clerk". I figure I have to work a minimum of 32 hours at $10 an hour in order to meet my obligations. All of this seems completely unreal to me, like I've gone down some kind of drain and come out into an alternate universe where I don't have much to offer or something.

One of the problems is really just that my kids are my priority and I have been trying to work around their schedule. I finally must admit that my kids will have to do without me, and given my stress level, are probably better off. I have to work straight through a good chunk of my alotted time with them. It breaks my heart.

I wonder if the stress of staying in a lie and getting physically and emotionally abused by one scared mad man was actually worse than this. Now, I am living a truth that I hardly recognize.

I'm so used to telling stories about how my life is special and wonderful, that it is hard to be truthful all the time. People who ask, "How are you?" are most likely to receive, "I'm great!" I used to hate it when people actually felt obligated to tell me their sad stories, and so I really work at not doing that myself, but I have such a sad story going on now. It's a hard split. Truthfully, am I fine? Well, sure. I seem to have much to be grateful for right now in particular.

Yet, the stress of having it work out seems astronomical sometimes. I have to compromise much of what I value the most -- time with my kids, time on the tango floor, and even time to do my religious commitments -- in order to find work to pay the bills that keeps a roof over our heads and food on the table much less anything extra. I really don't get it.

I want to bloom, to live my purpose in life, rather than being an unfulfilled bud. It does seem that in order to do that in reality at some point down the line, I just have to concentrate on growing a stronger root system. I guess I am just coming out of pruning mode, and even dormancy, in my life. I have to look at the situation I find myself in and say yes, I'm actually rooted now, and maybe I have a few tender shoots. We'll see. I don't know how it works beyond this point.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I just had to add something to my thoughts of last night -- the idea that dreams must have some resonance with the realities of today or they will not happen. We must accept our reality as it is in order that we can bring about a resonant dream for tomorrow.

I opened the book "The Hidden Messages in Water" by Masuru Emoto just ten minutes ago, and this is what I read:

"The greatest secret of Japanese martial arts is referred to as 'winning without fighting.' This essentially means avoiding resonating with the enemy. To fight and win results in resonance with the enemy, and so the level of the relationship is very low.

When frequencies are fundamentally incompatible, they cannot resonate. We cannot accept what is fundamentally different from us.

However, an interesting fact is that resonance can result even when frequencies are not identical. This happens, for instance, when the frequency is doubled. Playing the la key on the piano at 440 Hz and the la key an octave lower at 220 Hz creates quite a pleasant resonating sound, and responding to a tuning fork with a sound one octave lower also creates a nice resonance.

When the frequency difference is twofold, four-fold, eightfold, and so on -- or one-half, one-quarter, and so on -- the result is resonance. The principle of this relationship extends to infinity. No matter how distant the frequencies, resonance will result if one of the two numbers is a multiple of the other. We can also say that for every sound on each level there is a rosonating sound on every other level."

I believe this is precisely why when we make our lives what we can in this moment, clean up our act so to speak, that we can begin to resonate with our dreams for a better tomorrow.


I can't quite figure out what I have been doing this past year, and yet I have never been so busy. I suppose I was spinning my wheels like a hamster in a cage with no place to go and lots of energy. Right now I'm simply sitting in that wheel of necessity. My goal is to get to the hub, so that as it is spinning I don't feel so damned dizzy.

Looking at the wheel I can see I have to devote my energy to certain things. I have to care for my children when I have them. That's a priority. Then when I don't have them it is like what? It is like an empty pie-tin that I have to fill up. I miss them so very much, and I worry about the fact that they don't have me there to run to as they always did before. I know I can't think about this for very long or I fall into a pit of despair.

So, I've been very busy. Those who know me well will be surprised it has taken me, what, five posts to mention Argentine Tango. In fact, I haven't been dancing as much since May. Still it is on my mind, and it did change my life forever. There have been times in the last year and a half when I have tangoed as many as five nights in a row. I was like a monkey in the jungle and the vines that kept me swinging through my life, were tango classes and milongas. For a moment, just a moment, I actually progressed and felt the dance move through my body like a new rhythm.

Then there was a job hunt. This is an activity that thus far has had no end. I've interviewed at many of the places I wanted to work at, but something about my demeanor I suppose, got me rejected. I think now that I have a home that I can afford that will change substantially. I'm looking forward to seeing whether this theory is true. When I believed that I could not support my children in a home for less than $60K a year, interviewing for jobs that paid less was so depressing, I can't tell you. Now, that I have a limit on my income or I lose my home, it opens up the world of options to me. I'm excited about it. I really don't know that there is a way I can't survive. Even if I just did Tarot Readings, or just a very small copywriting job every month, I could survive and support my kids. So surely, this knowledge will spill over into the way I meet and greet.

Then I have had such a love life. I had to find out some things about myself and men and that adventure has taken up a smidgen of my time. This is a whole blog post in and of itself. I wonder if I will share and what I will share if I do? Suffice it to say, I've learned many valuable lessons along the way.

The last thing that took up all of my time, I suppose was being homeless. If you've never been dislocated then you cannot imagine this I promise. Taking your things from place to place, sleeping on friends' couches and having most of your stuff in storage is such a time suck, it is really amazing. Packing and unpacking, searching and trying to put things safely away, is such a challenge and not for only myself, but also for my kids. I have boxes now in four places. It is ridiculously complicated. One cannot have friends visit, one cannot have a lover, one cannot arrange sleepovers and slumber parties for one's kids. It goes on and on as to how it affects the whole picture. I've done it for a year, and I'm ready to stop.

This year has been full of activity, but relief will not come from lack of activity. Rather relief will come from focused, simplified activity. The routine looks very appealing...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

building self trust

When a person spends nearly half a life lying to herself by "staying positive" it is hard to get to a place of self-trust once you wake up to the lie. How to discern between a "fantasy" and a "dream" becomes confusing.

If I have learned nothing else this past year it is that one cannot actually live very well without some dream of what is positive and good about the future. Yet, when faced with the stark reality that one has made up stories and fantasies about the future and what is possible, out of a stubborn determination to look at only the bright side of things when in reality they weren't going very well at all and the future possibilities were really never going to happen, then that dreaming becomes very challenging indeed. I wonder if this can make sense to anyone who has never been in an abusive relationship?

The challenge of re-learning how to dream without layering fantasies over reality is such an opportunity to find the center of one's being. For a true dream grows organically out of reality, the reality of the present moment. A dream can help you make a quantum leap so to speak out of that present reality, but only if there is some resonant recognition within the reality that the dream can grow from. So many of us spend our lives banging our head against our own dreams because we can't get that resonance to happen, because there is no seed of the dream in our present tense garden.

I get totally overwhelmed these days when I try to dream the way I used to dream. I used to dream so big and really almost get high off of that dreaming, but really that dreaming was all fantasy because my reality in the moment could not nurture such adventures to growth. I realize now that a true dream is a step-by-step adventure, even when it is a quantum leap or appears that way to the outside world. A sustainable "overnight success" has been years in the making, grounding its roots deep within the moment, each moment along the way.

Now, I can only dream a little ahead of where I am now and feel "safe". Perhaps with time, I will learn to trust myself to dream out further to the future. Now it is enough to dream of the house that I will move into next week, and how to accomplish supporting myself just in that house, just in that part of my life...

Thursday, September 13, 2007


There is nothing like temporarily, I hope, losing your hearing. I have a couple of ear aches, and it has become quieter in my world. I think this is a little perk to even out the ache in the ears. I remember when my grandfather was in the last years of his life, he wore a hearing aid, but often turned it off. He would sit at family gatherings and just smile benignly. That's how I feel. Or like the children in Charlie Brown, I don't have to make sense of what I can't understand. Maybe that's how I should look at the Universe, the egg, the snake. I don't have to make sense of what I can't understand....Hmmmm.

The five second delay...

It seems like a simple thing to do -- change of address, new business cards, notify people where you're moving to -- but when you've been homeless, as I have, for nearly a year, it is monumental. Mind you, I've had a roof over my head, but no place to call home. My stuff is in storage for the most part, though you'd be amazed how much can collect in just a year. Just keeping track of the stuff when you're moving around is an atrocious task. Just finding keys on a regular basis is a challenge when you've lived under five different roofs in a year.

It's not that I'm ungrateful. I've been very grateful to the friends and family who've housed my children and me over the past year. I can't say, "Thank you," enough because truly the only other option I've had is a Homeless Shelter and in the middle of a custody battle, that is not going to fly. Living in other people's homes has been a gift and a challenge that I'll never forget.

Back to the premise of moving into my own place...So after waiting for a year I finally got into a reduced-rent home in Boulder, but the caveat was that it was too expensive for me to handle alone at this time. I quickly agreed to having my mother move from Portland to Boulder to live with me in order to meet the rent. It would only be for a few months until I could find a job and get settled into paying the bills all myself.

It turned out I couldn't do that with funded housing. A person staying with you longer than two weeks has to go on the lease. Then she had to fill out an application. Then she had to commit to living with me for a year. Then things looked quite different. She had to move on a specific date so that she wasn't paying two rents. She had to make plans.

Being my mother, and knowing how much trouble I have had, she agreed pretty easily to uproot her entire life for me. I really appreciate that. Somehow we would make it work even though she had lived alone for the better part of thirty years, and I have two young children whose toys multiply as if by magic.

Then the stress of numbers came in. I became super worried that my orginal application which had been based on last years taxes and generously hopeful in the amount of income I could make this year would overqualify us when combined with my mother's retirement and trust income. However, I was assured it was okay. Still I worried. I sent letters to the Authority explaining the situation, and was assured that we'd have our incomes looked at in the last moment. It would be fine. All was well.

So, I started the change of address process as anyone would do who is moving in a week. I notified the Post Office, the schools, family, etc. I told people I was moving on Friday to my own townhouse. I showed my kids the new neighborhood. We timed ourselves to get to school. In short, I became comfortable that this was my future. It was a future that would have started tomorrow.

Then I got a call yesterday afternoon. "Amanda, I have bad news for you." It was the Authority and my fears came to fruition. Out of dumb luck, the Authority was training a new Authority, and decided to cross "t's" and dot "i's" and it turns out with our combined incomes we overqualify for the townhome by $1100 a year. We were out. There was no fanfare, no home, no nothing.

Can I possibly explain how the bottom dropped out of my world with that call?

Now I am like Television Network, and I am offering a five second appears that the story is not over, and when all is confirmed, I'll come back and tell you about that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

KosmicEgg Begins to Crack

As the snake wraps itself around the egg of its own creation, taking her tail into her mouth, and consuming herself, what exactly happens? What happens when the egg of creation cracks?

That is my interest today and perhaps I will change my mind tomorrow. I had a life that was whole and complete, or so I thought, and I cracked it open. I feel like the thinking is my egg, and I Am truly the snake. I understand that the creation is perpetual, but right now it feels finite. It feels like I am making a new egg from fragments of shell, and that it is not really the best way to create a new life. It is a puzzle that is missing parts and pieces, and what I want is a new egg.

Precisely, this is where I am wrong. I do understand that the egg, that which I am made from, is infinite and will not break until the wheel of necessity, that destiny made up of challenges and opportunities, is no longer a necessity. And, as Lao-Tzu says, "The best way to do is to be."

Okay. Let me be pedantic. I am a 43 year old woman, with two elementary school age children, divorced and starting over. It isn't that I'm uneducated that explains why I'm finding it hard to find viable work to support us, to find the ability to put a roof over our heads, to feel comfortable in my own skin, but rather that I am in a crisis of faith. My previous life's work, to make an unworkable marriage work, is over. I surrendered. My ego finally let go of the goal. Oddly, the void has created more uncertainty than being emotionally and physically abused.

So, if you can picture this, my ego is like that eggshell, punctured by life itself, cracked beyond repair. I actually hope this is true because my ego clearly had no idea what it was doing. Still living without that control freak friend has made life feel uncontained. Am I like a runny egg now spilling all over everything? Yes! Exactly. Perhaps, a frying pan is called for? Good Lord, that is my life for sure...

I know, I know, I'm being too literal. The Kosmic Egg is not an actual egg, but there is a reason we use this symbol to understand the basis of life itself. The very Oneness of an egg comes from understanding that within the shell all is contained and from that wholeness more will come in perpetual creation, and that life itself forces us to crack open that containment. Change is inevitable, and the serpent leads us to this change because it is necessary for us to break beyond the bounds of the ego and realize that our Oneness is only complete without the shell....

Is the Universe simply a series of egg-like structures, always getting down to the smallest observable or even unobservable particles which are based soley on probability and not on reliability? The ego demands the shell because the shell is reliable. Yet, please let us note how fragile it is in truth. All that is required to break through that shell is the Will of God, the snake, a stubborn challenger to the thinking self.